Blog : Driving in the UK – we’re all still learners

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Keith Adams

We're all stll learners

Mike Humble’s recent rant about his brush with incompetent drivers, and attitudes on the roads in the UK, was certainly food for thought – and it asks more questions than it answers. Personally speaking, and after many, many years on the road, during a long and sometimes painful driving career, I have been forced to come to some alternative conclusions.

I’ll agree that regular re-testing in the UK is an absolute must. The need to re-take one’s driving test every ten years will change people’s attitudes overnight – or at least have people preparing for their tests more or less constantly. It also creates jobs, and will lessen road accidents (how can it not, when everyone’s better educated). So it’s a win-win. And unlike age-related testing, ten-year re-testing validates experience no matter how old you are.

I don’t know about you, but I know that for someone who loves driving to his absolute core, and needs little excuse to jump behind the wheel and explore something new, going about my business in the UK is becoming increasingly tiresome. Driving standards here are absolutely dire, and I suspect that regular re-testing would only partially solve the problem.

Typically on any short journey, I’ll be subjected to: dangerous tailgating, aggressive lane-changing, speeding, inattention, lack of signalling, low awareness, and poor vehicle maintenance. Bad driving isn’t age-related – you’re just as likely to be hit by a 45-year old as you are a 17- or 65-year old, and it seems also that age has no direct correlation with experience and competency.

And what that says to me is that the core of the problem is attitude.

We’re a strange bunch, us Brits. We’re the nicest people you could find face-to-face – possessing dry wit, charm and good manners (on the whole). And yet, behind the wheel of a car, most of us become egotistical, selfish psychopaths. Walk into a shop and we’ll hold the door open for someone and let them through with a smile; but head to a two-into-one lane-merge at roadworks, and we’re bullies who are unwilling to help the other guy. And of course, that slows things down, making people even more testy.

We’re also an angry bunch. I put that down to being overcrowded, over-taxed and under-facilitated. We queue for our £1.50 per litre fuel, drive on congested poorly maintained roads, so it’s no wonder that blood pressures are rising. But then, car ownership is stressful, and driving more so.

But things could be improved. By addressing the core problem of driver attitudes.

I generally approach my driving as a learner – that is, I am always trying to improve what I do, and learn something new every day. I’m humble (oops). It’s an approach that generally serves me well, and although I am far from perfect as a driver, I know it, and I really do feel like I’m learning something new every day. And when I do make a mistake – I always apologise to the other driver. I do get frustrated with other people’s mistakes – of course I do – and I’ll whine about them behind the wheel, but I’ll rarely flash my lights or toot my horn. Why do that – as the chances are, they don’t know what they’ve done wrong.

For instance, I do stick to 30mph in 30mph zones. Religiously. And there’s very good reason for this that we don’t need to spell out here. But time and time again, I’ll be tailgated and verbally abused for doing so. Yet more often than not, when on a NSL, doing 60mph, I will find myself stuck behind similar drivers doing no more than 40mph. That’s more than a driver education issue – that’s just a lack of common sense.

And here I finally get to the point of this long ramble. Basically, somehow – and I don’t know how – but we just need an attitude change. It seems to me that far too many people treat driving as a right, rather than a privilege, and simply go about it without any care, thought or pride. To most people (it seems, and I do hate generalisations) driving is a non-thinking activity, and they go about it in the same way they would to warm up a pot of beans in the microwave. Food in, set time, brain in neutral, then PING, it’s over.

And it really shouldn’t be like that.

Let’s have 10-year re-tests by all means – it really in a win-win – but beyond that, let’s re-examine our entire approach to driving and other road users. Not that it really matters – because soon, petrol will be £2.50 per litre, and no one will be able to afford to drive anyway!

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

53 Comments

  1. I found the solution was to be an egotistical sociopath when not driving, and save all my politeness for when I’m behind the wheel 😀

  2. Agree about the 30mph tailgating…..the closer they get the more time I take at Give Ways, etc and politely allow others the right of way at every opportunity!……if they just maintained a sensible gap they would have got there far sooner!!

    However, the standard of driving and death rate is far higher in most other European countries where stopping at pedestrian crossings and flashing lights / politely letting others take priority is mostly unheard of. The French authorities were recently using British drivers behavior as a good example in a road safety campaign at zebra crossings, etc. As for tailgating it is routine practice in France and Italy on the motorways…..although French lane discipline after overtaking is far better than ours on their Autoroutes.

  3. Well, I actually disagree with the content of this article. Having recently visited Greece, and in particular Rhodes, the driving standard here is terrible! White lines and lane discipline… Actually don’t exist. As for doped limits, why bother? As a taxi driver told us, there are two cameras on the whole of the island and police are somewhat thin on the ground.

    Did we see an accident? Nope, not one. Roadside memorials-a-plenty.

    Whilst I don’t disagree with theory behind retesting, why bring in something else that’s going to cost the motorist more money?

    Devices installed in cars to help insurers decide who is the safer/more dangerous driver would be a much better step forward. Afterall, if you’re a bad driver you should be uninsurable, and made to do something about it…

  4. Please Keith, not more legislation.

    Re-testing will not change driver attitude, those with an attitude problem will still be a pain to the rest of us, but we will all be punished with being taught how
    to suck eggs.

  5. I could rant for hours on this, especially as I have to put up with the inbred turnipchompers of East Anglia. I kid you not, someone today sat at a green traffic light, then when they went to red, decided to go, and almost hit a van that was then on a green light.

  6. I would like to think that I drive carefully, with consideration for other road users. I don’t speed, I don’t tailgate the car in front or be aggressive in other ways. I do observe the road around me.

    I think bad attitude is the key problem. People who tailgate, almost hound you in urban traffic are a real pain. Even if they do manage to pass you they fail to realise that they will still only arrive at work a second sooner and risk a bump to achieve this. Such people just don’t read the road ahead or correctly judge the traffic conditions.

    I often mutter “come on, read the road” when, for example, someone slightly easing off and flashing their lights would allow me to pull out and avoid a long wait. Such politeness would improve the general traffic flow. Also, I hate bad lane discipline. On the way to work, the same stretch annoys every day – two lanes before the lights, the right one being for turning right, but beyond the lights only one wide stretch with a gradual drift to the centre from the left lane. So many use the right lane, through the lights, the junction for overtaking as opposed to turning right. So many mornings a graze, a scrape would have resulted were it not for me expecting this bad driving and constantly mirror checking.

    As I said it’s the attitude that’s the problem, not so much a lack of driving ability.

  7. The best way to be a better driver is to be a better driver than everyone else! Nicely written Mike, all the other contributor’s of comments shows me that at least some of us are thinking about what we’re doing when we’re out there!

  8. So we “drive on congested poorly maintained roads”. Sorry mate, disagree with you there. I have just got back from India and they’d think you were having a laugh if they heard you say that.

    First thing I noticed on my return to the UK was how well surfaced our roads our and how good the lane discipline is.

    The problem in the UK I think is that modern cars are so luxuriant that you feel like you’re driving a sitting room on wheels — go to India and everyone is really “driving” i.e. they have no music on and are paying 100% attention to the road because otherwise you’ll get squished by another car, a rikshaw, a moped or a cow.

  9. Here, here Keith!

    Agree 100%.

    The standards of driving are a disgrace.

    Remember that insurance advert that showed what it would be like if we all get on like we drove while we were walking – people shouting at each other, the small man with the executive car pushing to get to the front at the lights etc.

    On one of your previous blogs, you said that in Dubai (I think?) the road speeds were higher, but everyone gave each other courtesy, as we are all in this together. However the UK seems to have an almost thatcherite (apologies) selfishness and “get one over” attitude to driving.

    As a nation that is famed for politeness and queueing, it doesn’t seem to extend to the roads – see a queue in one lane and a stream of (predominantly german execs) cars will continue in the wrong lane then barge in at the last minute. Could you imagine if they did that in the supermarket? Going to a different till queue then barging in front of you at the last second?
    It would be considered the height of rudeness – yet, it seems to be appropriate behaviour on the roads!!

  10. Try the USA if you want to see some terrible driving. People on their distracted on their mobile/smartphones texting and in animated converstations, drinking coffee or sodas, eating, talking to others, playing with their GPS’s, too many drunk/stoned. Lane displine is much less than in the UK on multi-lane roads, too many drive too fast, tailgting is normal. Driving is seen as such a right and necessary, especially with weak bus and mass transit networks that too many feeble minded, elderly, bad sighted people drive out of necessity. Some states here do require testing of sight for elderly drivers, but most don’t, relying on doctors to put pressure on patients or in the most extreme situations reporting to licensing agencies. Also in the USA, the need to have a car, even by the poorest and only a few states requiring the = of an MOT, means a lot of very unsafe cars on the road.
    I have driven several times in the UK from farm roads to the M 1 (and even survived the M 25) and in comparison, your drivers are better overall.

  11. Why is it that (nearly) everyone thinks they are a good driver, but they will happily admit to being useless at other things.

    For instance, people will say “I’m no good at sport” or “I’m useless at DIY” or “I can’t do technical stuff” or “I can’t tell jokes” or “I don’t understand computers”.

    But have you ever heard anyone say “I’m no good at driving”?

  12. Agree with you Keith.

    Just back from a few years in the Persian Gulf where every day on the roads is an episode of Wacky Races!! They are also polite and generous people when not in tin boxes. Get them behind the wheel of a car however……!!!
    However, coming back to the UK was an eye-opener!Standards here have plummeted.
    For me it seems that a huge part of the problem is the singular lack of awareness for other road users. Some people drive as if they are the only car on the road and they can only look through the windscreen. Mirrors are merely ornamental. Side windows purely superfluous.
    I guess I’m lucky in that I’ve had to take a few tests in my time – car, bike, other country’s tests as well to get local licences for various vehicles – so I’d like to think I’ve been lucky to keep learning to keep passing.
    The biggest thing of all for me has been that key factor of maintaining awareness. Awareness of the road ahead, road conditions, traffic conditions, the road behind, what’s round the next bend, what’s that car going to do etc etc. All stuff we’re taught when we learn but many simply ditch when they pass it seems.
    Getting a bike licence, for example, made sure I upped my game and sorted out a few bad habits. It instilled in me the need to use my mirrors much more often, look further down the road, second and third guess what others were going to do and so on. I’m not saying everyone should get a bike ticket as well but it helped me.
    I agree with Keith regards the lack of common sense regards speed limits, especially driving 20+ mph under the NSL on a good road in very good conditions. It stumps me as to why people do it. One cause of road rage no doubt.
    Not sure if re-testing could be pushed through, but I’d support it. Wrong for people to simply expect being able to drive is a right. It’s to be earned, a privilege.
    Too many new cars lull the driver into a false sense of security. Too many people slip into auto-pilot.
    Not sure what the answer might be, though the insurance black box may be a solution, or part of one.
    Not looking forward to the rest of my 30k miles a year behind the wheel after what I’ve witnessed so far on my return!

  13. Not keen on the idea of a compulsory retest.

    Whilst there are some complete idiots on the road (sometimes myself included – I make mistakes, as I am human), most of us already know how to drive to pass a test.

    All it does is generate revenue for the government (hmmm I could see them going for this). After passing the test you can drive for an arse for the best part of 10 years. Not much of a deterrent IMO.

    What would be better is to stop mandating all of these modern driving aids that make drivers feel like they’re safe at any speed, and start going back to basics.

    My first car was an Austin Metro from 1983. No ABS, no real safety systems except the brakes, manual steering, seat belts and the nut behind the wheel.

    I think all drivers need to be in a car they have to drive by feel instead of the cars today which by enlarge make the driver feel disconnected from the road. Drivers rely on the safety systems and driver aids for their normal driving rather than the emergency situations they were designed to cover.

  14. All those who are against any form of refresher, well I’m sorry but in my views, that makes me think why don’t you? Is it because it would damage your ego if an instructor said ‘That driving was complete pants’? Nobody likes being told that they are crap behind the wheel, and need further training, but sadly EVERYONE needs it who drives, especially as you get older, and I think EVERYONE should be forced at some point to drive a vehicle with a mass greater than 7.5 tonnes, and longer than 30 ft and 7ft6 (10m & 2.4m for those in eurobabble land), because the massive amount of nuggets who park like gimps, and leave sod all room for large vehicles to actually pass safely. People need to get it into their heads that driving is a privilege, and not a right, and it can be taken away very easily

  15. I am going to add my two penith by stating I think we need a complete rethink on the way our how we drive in this country. How can a person be able to go and take a test after a couple of lessons and pass and be classed as a qualified driver? It is madness. If you want to ride a bike it is so different, as is the test in many other “civilised” countries.
    We should have a similar system employed in New Zealand, where a driver’s ability, who they can drive and the cc of the car is managed to provide the experience and responsibility to the driver. It should be made plain to people that driving is not a right. It should be stipulated how many hours of practice people have to take before they are allowed to take the test, and then regular tests should take place.
    How many people don’t know how to use a roundabout? In Basildon where I live and work, not many, by the amount who get in the left hand lane to turn right, or don’t understand what three lanes at a roundabout are for!
    We should also tax ccar usage by fuel. Adding 3p to a litre and dumping road tax would make it fairer all round, as those who drive big gas guzzling motors would have to pay more while foreign lorry drivers would be contributing to the maintenance of our roads.
    We should also be looking at the madness that is our insurance system which is a joke. How can someone who has a better no claim and a smaller enegine car be charged more for insurance than someone who drives a larger engine car without a no claims just because of the area you live in? I have a better no claims than my work colleagues missus and drive a less powered car but pay £200 more?

  16. You are so on the money.

    I used to live in Dorset, often got stuck behind purple rinse…wait to overtake, and then watch the Mr or Mrs 40MPH **ONLY** drop a cog to be a challenge.

    We like driving in France (excluding paris)

    Oh yes, experience has taught me the larger your car the less likely you are to be cut up.

    Just my pennys worth 🙂

  17. I actually think there are too many clowns pretending to be driving instructors too. The latest franchise to spring up around here is Bill Plant, and their standards of instruction seem a joke, letting their pupils get themselves into very dangerous situations, and doing nasty habits like parking on double yellows

  18. I have to say I share your driving experiences, but not your thoughts on regular re-testing. I passed my test 13 years ago and never had an accident (hope I’m not tempting fate by saying that) and still have a squeaky clean licence. There is far too much bureaucracy and red tape in this country as it is. What is needed are more police and stiffer penalties for bad drivers, not more regulation to penalise decent drivers, too. Get rid of speed humps as well!!!

  19. I think one of the problems with poor driving standards stem from people driving as though they are walking. As regards retesting I am in two minds here, perhaps (we) drivers should sit the theory tests. This might mean we would read the Highway Code a little more often.

  20. I drive roughly 20k miles a year – my pet hate? People who don’t pull up the car in front of them in a queue and STOP, but instead leave a huge gap between them and the car in front, then edge forward ever so slowly, while the lights are on red!!! WHY???? Just pull up to the end of the queue and STOP! You half-wits………

  21. Oh, and another thing, I am also a keen cyclist. Indicating right, but not pulling out does NOT mean you have given me sufficient room!!

  22. Have to disagree with the sentiments of the two articles – driving standards have not changed over the past 20-30 years.

    The same problems – tailgating, speeding, impatience, lane discipline, cutting up, overtaking, dawdling, bad decision making and lack of observation have been around pretty much since two cars went down the same for the first time ever.

    The difference we all now have an internet where we can vent our collective spleens, just before we go out and witness the same things again, and maybe even cause a few ourselves.

  23. @Jeremy

    “Oh yes, experience has taught me the larger your car the less likely you are to be cut up.”

    My Honda is 186.8 in (4,745 mm) long, larger than an E90 3 series, yet I still get cut up, tailgated etc.

    I think a lot of it is based on perceived value / status of the car / driver.

  24. Driving these days is such a chore.

    The big issue is too many cars on roads not designed for them.

    I have doubts about full re-tests -not least because I don’t know if I’f pass – mainly because there’s a big difference between passing a test and being a good ‘real world’ driver. Many drivers would be able to pass and then leave the test centre with a phone in one hand and cup of coffee in the other whilst swearing out of an open window.

    While we are on about safety can we please make it compulsory for cyclists to be registered and have third party insurance. I am sick of arrogant cyclists who ride dangerously and think its a driver’s fault (old man on the A59 last night I mean you!) or – even worse – terrorise pedestrians (I will come off better than a bike in the jag but not necessarily on foot)

  25. @Chris – not sure I said they’re better or worse than they were 20 or 30 years ago.

    In fact I know I didn’t. Roads are more crowded now, so of course, we’re going to see more bad driving. It’s a numbers game.

  26. Poor driving standards are encouraged by the lack of police patrols. Since speed cameras became common, the mesage that “Speed Kills” has been rammed down our throats – what about “Stupid Driving Kills”?
    But they do have their moments – this morning a Toyota Yaris driver got a bit ambitious on the M1, whereupon a white Audi convertible behind him suddenly sprouted a blue light. Interesting, and undoubtedly effective.

  27. @21 I’m quite ok for someone to say my driving is pants. Like anyone’s, from time to time it is. I just don’t think retaking your test every 10 years is going to have that much of an impact on driving standards. The bad habits will creep back in within weeks of going through the test and it will be 9 and a bit years before anyone worries about it.

    Having driven in other countries, driving standards in the UK are actually quite good, the main issue being we have very congested roads with precious little policing.

    Unfortunately the main method of someone getting points on their licence nowadays is via “safety cameras”. Well I’m sorry speed cameras, whilst effective against one type of driving offence, are not at all effective at someone driving without due care and attention within the speed limit.

    We need decent numbers of dedicated traffic officers again instead of HATOs, and they need to be visible. I know that’s expensive in these times of austerity however the impact this is likely to have would be worth every penny.

  28. @Keith – 32
    Maybe I was reading both articles and detected a yearning for the old days, but to be honest the “giffers” and “idiots” have been with us for years. Certainly long before I (and I suspect you 😉 were storming the Trough of Bowland in the 80s in search of thrills.

    Driving standards haven’t got worse, they just never improved along with everything else. I don’t think age matters, quite often as a 40-something I find going to a new area plastered with “street furniture” a real pain in the arse. It leads to confusion and a long time spent not wanting to break any rule so you kind of wonder which way to go. Its almost like driving in the a different country sometimes. In fact I feel safer and less stressed driving in (for example) Spain or France than I do in the UK sometimes.

    This does suggest that the “improved” driving test with its written part and theory test is a waste of money. “Making Jobs” with more testing seems like a “waste of money” in my eyes, and as uk.gov already sucks half my earnings one way or another I would rather not spend any more.

    Safety cameras are part of the problem – less police is the result, eventually solved by spending more money on “Motorway Patrol” officers who have, er, no powers at all. Why not just leave the police to do this stuff ? I read that one county in England had no traffic police at all. This lack of enforcement means that muppets across the country regularly glue their phones to their ears and drive one handed…

  29. I am not too sure about the present day test but I passed mine without exceeding 30mph. My tutor then kindly took me for a spin at 40mph.I know we all complain about the cost of lessons etc but surely new drivers should not be released without proper main road driving skills which are then tested again before being let loose hopefully with some common sense.

  30. What I actually liked when I passed my test all those years ago was my instructor giving me a free 2 hour motorway lesson a few days after my test. He told me to plant it to overtake a fire engine that was on a shout, I hit just under the ton, a bit naughty I know, but he was happy that I could control a car at speed. And btw the motorway was the good old M62 🙂

  31. Couldn’t agree more with Marty B about driving standards in East Anglia – particularly Norfolk. I have never seen such dangerous and inconsiderate driving at such low speeds. Not to mention tractors, there is often more brainpower in the seven tons of sugarbeat in the trailer than in the cab of the tractor. I must say I have never really had a problem with tailgating they are all so slow. I got so fed up with driving a car in Norfolk and being forced to drive so slowly, I now ride a powerful motorbike. Gets past everything, and I don’t get annoyed.

  32. Rob, I’m trying to work out how some brainless old fart parked their car in some railings the other day outside Warren Heath Sainsburys. No other vehicles were involved! I was also waiting to turn right out of a side turning on an estate with a bus, and a local yokel got confused & blocked the road because they thought their Nissan Micra was about 12ft wide and wouldn’t fit down the 8ft gap at the side of my bus. East Anglians in general also do not understand what ‘Give Way’ signs mean either, and zig zag markings outside schools and pedestrian crossings clearly mean that they can park on them here!

  33. Rob, I’m trying to work out how some brainless old fart parked their car in some railings the other day outside Warren Heath Sainsburys. No other vehicles were involved! I was also waiting to turn right out of a side turning on an estate with a bus, and a local yokel got confused & blocked the road because they thought their Nissan Micra was about 12ft wide and wouldn’t fit down the 8ft gap at the side of my bus. East Anglians in general also do not understand what ‘Give Way’ signs mean either, and zig zag markings outside schools and pedestrian crossings clearly mean that they can park on them here!

  34. Some good stuff here.

    I think concentration and being prepared to read the road ahead as others have suggested here are absolutely essential.

    Good to see the bus driver’s point of view represented here. I confess it’s a very long time since I read the Highway Code, but isn’t there something in there (which you also sometimes see on the back of buses) remind us that we’re supposed to give way to buses?

    I rather like the candid signs on the back of trucks reminding us that if we can’t see their mirror(s) they can’t see us, and the reminder that on occasion they may wish to turn left, and that people (esp cyclists) need to be prepared for such an eventuality. Stands to reason, really.

    In a similar (blind spot) vein, I have little time for those who’ve found themselves squeezed and/or their cars damaged where they’ve come up alongside a massive left-hand drive – and so on foreign plates – artic and not given the artic the berth and right of way that perhaps they could have done to complete particular manouevres in safety.

  35. The ‘must get in front of’ brigade grind my gears to be honest too. More often than not they foolishly overtake, and then immediately turn left/right in front of you, causing you to brake. Trimley sliproad on the A14 is a regular spot for serious accidents, often caused by car drivers flying up the sliproad, not looking and pulling out straight into the path of a container truck doing 56

  36. It’s not just poor driving; it’s poor roads. On my commute, the road design is so poor that a lot of people boot it whenever they get the chance just to make up lost time. For example; a long single carriageway A road with confusing speed limits, has one stretch at NSL where you can just about get in a quick overtake. Most drivers take the whole road at 45-50 regardless so when the 60 section comes up people will want to pass them, sometimes with dangerous consequences – there was a fatal collision here just a few days ago.

    This wouldn’t be such a problem if more stretches were available for overtaking, but stupid traffic islands and excessively low speed limits on the short dual carriageway sections put paid to this.

    Then there’s the lower speed stuff in town where most people get held up and have to drive through lights on yellow, rat run down narrow back streets, cut in, pull out and so on. The road network of the town lacks any kind of coherence and is locally notorious.

    Most drivers at peak times are commuters and are in a hurry. My journey is 21 miles long and usually takes an hour. Dangerous driving is one thing, but in these circumstances, impatience and a desire to push through are inevitable.

  37. Poor roads.
    My commute is about 20 miles too, moves from rural into city, through the city and out the other end of the city.

    The rural stretch has a couple of bad crossroads that really should be roundaboutted. Have seen a lot of near-misses here.

    Some people try and overtake, but as it is a long line of vehicles heading for the city, there usually is no point.

    Then towards the city, the road alternates between 2 lanes at traffic lights to 1 lane + bus lane on intermediate stretches.

    People in the outside lane are stuck in a queue, people get in the inside and then as it becomes a bus lane immediately after, have to get into the outside lane. Those in the outside lane feel hard done by and wont let them in, those who take the inside lane get increasingly aggressive and the cycle goes on every single bloody day.

  38. I agree with Chris-29 and AndrewP-31….

    I know i’m not a perfect driver, just yesterday I miss judged how fast an Audi was approaching a mini roundabout, and pulled out in front of him (He was coming from a side road), as it happened there was still about 20′ distance between us, but I said sorry anyway.
    What really annoys me is that people often don’t realise that mini roundabout have the same rules at big ones. Just because you are 50meters away from the roundabout, doesn’t mean you can speed up because I am already on the roundabout and you think its your right of way (which it would be if you where at the roundabout)!!
    I have done alot of driving in life (although i’m only 35, I was driving upto 65k miles year 10 years ago), I go to Europe alot, I regularly tow a large trailer, and hold a race licence. All of these things help you to be a better driver (I also ride a bicycle on the road at times).
    Towing in the UK is especially irritating on motorways.
    My commute takes me from J25 – J17 on the M25. The 6am and 4pm travel times normally mean that you can sit in the outside lane all the way as the other lanes are full of lorries etc doing 60mph. At least twice a week I see someone weaving in and out of lanes to try and get through a bit quicker, and after 7 junctions you find they are only 6 cars in front…. they must lead such a stressful life!!

  39. I agree with the comments about idiots who don’t know how to drive on roundabouts, e.g, people who signal right when they are actually going straight on, people who use the right hand lane for going straight on, when they should be over on the left. I have driven in Ireland many times and am of the opinion that the standard of driving over there is much better than in Britain, although I have come across women who stop at roundabouts when there are no other vehicles in sight!! Also, most Irish people are much friendlier than over here.

    If you want to see bad driving, visit Cheshire any day of the week!

    People using their mobile phones whilst driving, people driving with their lights on in broad daylight, people tailgating me, even when I am exceeding the speed limit, people doing 50 on motorways, people doing 90 on motorways, people who pull out on me at the last minute and then driving off realy slowly, lorries moving into the middle lane, just so they can drive at the same speed as the lorry in the inside lane – these are just some of the many things about other drivers that annoy me!

  40. Having driven my own car in Moscow, Chicago, Naples, Casablanca, Paris, Ankara and Istanbul – and survived them all unscathed – I feel moderately qualified to comment that we are not the worst drivers in the World – but we are probably the worst motorway drivers in the World!

    Everyone claims to indicate left every time when leaving a roundabout – but have you ever seen anyone actually do it? (If you did, it was me!)

  41. I remeber being tailgated on a narrow country road, (way too narrow to pass on) My responce? slow down, in fact to the point we stopped. I received a fair amount of abuse for this, and on being asked why I had stoped I replied ‘Because you are now following at a safe distance for the speed we are traveling at’ this did not go down well… and I was told if I did not speed up he would push me out of the way, I hope he was not in a postion of any importantce at work that may effect others.. He was in an 03 5 series, I was in a ’75 SIII SWB landrover

  42. I was giving a driving lesson yesterday and my student said that her friend worked at a place that fitted devices in cars that monitor speed and adjust insurance premiums to suite. This sounds like a good idea to help reduce speeding etc, but would not really combat all bad driving. Some slow drivers are just as dangerous as fast drivers. Diving too slow can cause overtaking and rear end accidents.

    I think the driving test every 10 years is a good idea but I don’t think it should be marked the same way as the first test. Making motorists sit the same test after 10 years driving experience seems unnecessary. Maybe a shorter test with more of an overview of total performance. As an instructor you can generally tell quickly if someone is safe to drive and someone that needs a little bit of work.

    Maybe a few hours training and no test at the end like the motorbike CBT may be better. Saying that it would still cost the motorists valuable money every 10 years.

    After driving around different countries in Europe I have found our driving in the UK is not to bad compared to say France, Italy.

    As an instructor I notice the people that cause the most trouble for learner drivers on the road are (1) taxi drivers (thier job is driving, retest for them :)) (2) post office van drivers (3) the elderly.

    Bin lorries can also cause chaos at times.

  43. PCV and LGV drivers have to do 35 hrs training every 5 years by law, so why not do the same for all motorists?

  44. I drive for around eight hours everyday on the road either teaching learners of differnet abilities or behind the wheel myself. On a daily basis I have to take evasive action to avoid being crashed into by licenced drivers. The standards of many drivers is worse than my inexperienced learners in particular on roundabouts, dual carriageways, and negotiating lane changes. I agree that bad drivers come from all age groups. Young drivers though are rarely the problem. I do admit though that some young drivers tend to be involved in many more serious accidents that involve fatalities. There should be much harsher punishments for both careless and dangerous driving to make everyone take things seriously whilst behind the wheel and I agree that being assessed rather than tested every 5-10 years would really help improve the standards on our roads.

  45. I dont think making penalties any stiffer would make a difference,if the car is stolen the driver will treat the dangerous and careless driving as a occupational hazzard, i have known people to get done for that just because the police officer interpreted it as such in a non accident pullover situation,a swerve for a cat/squirrel and what have you.
    I see my point reinforced every day when everyone is on their phone while driving to work,only getting killed or causing a death being any deterrant,even worse still they drive at upwards of 70 texting or posting on facebook.

    My suggestion? 6 months mandatory prison,to sharpen their focus on road safety.I am ashamed to say i was caught on the phone on a main road locally bang to rights(i was not going to deny iy it) and the maddening thing was its my pet hate with drivers,my Parrot kit was acting up so stupidly
    i picked the phone up to ring a friend-and there was no answer! I was candid in my admission to the traffic policeman and he offered me GMP’s Drivesafe course which was £80 and the longest and worst three hours of my life but it kept my licence clean-i was very very lucky.

    Another thing motorists seem to rely on is the safety kit, ESP,airbags,ABS and traction control thinking they will be fine if something goes wrong,i dont think deaths on the road have been reduced because of these features,only that the life saving techniques of our emergency services has evolved and improved over the years.It may sound absurd what i have said but once you are in a spin on the middle lane at 80 and the pin has been pulled……

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